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1981

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CONCERTS & EVENTS

  • January - Fiona returns to work with Academy of Ancient Music and Jaye Consort of Viols. London.

  • April - opening for Italian tenor Marco Valenti,Toronto, Ottawa, Kitchener, Hamilton

  • May -  run-out to Timmins. 

  • June/July/August - Various music events and conferences, London, Toronto, Cincinnati, and Boston.

  • August/September - Record Christmas Album, Ottawa.

  • October Lennox/Addington, Walkerton, Elliot Lake, Hayleybury, Orangeville, Tilsonburg, Dundalk, Quebec City, St. John's, Church Point, Truro and Halifax.

  • Octorber - CBC broadcast, Moncton.

  • November - Dryden, Kenora, Winkler, Steinbach, Brandon, Weyburn, Moose Jaw, Swift Current, Red Deer, Brooks, Nelson, Grand Forks, Ashcroft, Camrose, Edmonton, Grand Prarie and Fort Nelson.

  • December - Cassiar, Vernon, Fort St. John, Prince George, Terrace, Clearwater, Revelstoke, Medicine Hatt, Lacomb, Banff, Fort McMurray, North Battleford, Saskatoon and Oakville.

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Ian leaves the Huggett Family and enrolls in geological courses at Waterloo University.

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PAT-A-PAN

Bernard de La Monnoye

Leslie recorders, Margaret krumhorns, Andrew recorders, krumhorns and vialoni, Jennifer, viols and recorder, Fiona violin and viols with Stephen Tevlin tabor and Ed Honeywell, lute.

LISTEN WHILE YOU BROWSE

This song from the Huggetts 1981 Christmas album is attributed to seventeenth-century Burgundian poet Bernard de la Monnoyet. A one-time Jesuit schooled lawyer, he  abandoned law for the literary arts. No one is certain whether de la Monnoyet borrowed the melody from an earlier folk tune or wrote it himself.  He won an annual contest of the Académie Française with his essay, "The abolition of the duel," which Voltaire highly praised. After winning the contest four more times, organizers asked him to refrain from entering again, to give others a chance.

 

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Bernard de la Monnoyet. No one is certain whether de la Monnoyet borrowed the melody for Pat-A-Pan from an earlier folk tune or wrote it himself.

MOVING FORWARD

By 1981, Huggett Family tours and rehearsals are being condensed into shorter periods, as Family members spend more time apart pursuing individual goals. Andrew has established himself as a composer, teacher, and studio musician in Ottawa. Fiona is working with various early music groups in London, and Jennifer is touring with the AFM Congress of strings in Cincinnati. Ian decides that a music career is not for him and pursues new and varied interests.

 

Despite these changes, the Huggett Family continues to move forward. 1981 and 82, the last years of activity for the group, turn out to be the Huggett Family's most profitable years. Leslie and Andrew continue developing business. A full-time tour coordinator, Heather Engli, introduced to Leslie at a Canada Council arts management conference in Toronto, is hired.

 

Andrew, now engaged in booking concerts across the country, explains: "Up to this time, most of the Huggett Family's work has come via tour-planning organizations like Jeunesses Musicales. These organizations catered to small communities by offering them packages of three to five concerts, each concert featuring a different artist, for a single fee. Subscribing communities then resell the shows locally as a concert series. This allows Jeunesses Musicales and similar organizations to offer three or four-week tours for a single all-inclusive fee to artists and groups like the Huggett Family. Without the hard work of these tour-planning organizations, there would be almost no access to classical music outside Canadian urban centers. 

 

By 1980, with the notable exception of the communities who subscribed to the Overture Concerts organization, the Huggett Family had accessed 90% of the Canadian communities that used a tour-planning concert service. In Ottawa, we found we were competing with the Huggett Family of 10 years earlier. We were musically much more accomplished but not anywhere near as cute, and no one could deny that we had lost some of the sheer novelty and charm that drew people to our early shows. Over the years, we'd sold over 100,000 tickets in Ottawa. Also, we'd played most other major urban centers multiple times, and the Shaw Festival for three consecutive years. It would be a few years before we could return to these saturated markets. 

 

Bookings are usually made a year in advance, and a new approach needed to be made to guarantee success in 1981 and 82. The Touring Office of the Canada Council provided a database to Canadian tour promoters. It listed all the Canadian community concert sponsoring organizations and key decision-makers. In 1980, long-distance calls were costly, and so the Canada Council also made a free long-distance phone line available in their Ottawa location. 

 

In 1980, Dad and I targeted all the Canadian communities that the Huggett Family had not yet visited. 

 

We did a quarterly mailing of promotional materials to community decision-makers. If Huggett Family wasn't already a household name in their minds, it would be by the end of the third or fourth mailing. 

 

After the third mailout, I used the Canada Council's phone to call each person on my mailing list. I told them that the Huggett Family would be in their area during a specific week, a year hence, and would love to play in their community. Getting a personal call from an artist who was a "household name" proved highly successful.This personal approach netted 51 concerts between the fall of 1981 and the summer of 1982.

 

I also attended several "Contacts," government-sponsored conferences held in most provinces, where promoters and community organizers could meet face to face. Here, I met many independent community concert organizers and, most importantly, the head of the only Canadian tour-planning organization we'd not yet worked with, George Zuckerman of Overture Concerts. 

 

George was a world-class Bassoon soloist and created Overture Concerts in 1955, the year I was born. By 1980 he had built it into one of the largest tour-planning organizations in Canada with an annual budget of over 4.5 million dollars. The Huggett Family, with a concert fee of $4,000 ($13,000 in 2022 adjusted dollars), had become one of Canada's highest-paid classical touring groups. Over the years, Dad had continually turned down George's work offers, saying his tours involved too much driving and not enough money. Georges's communities had been requesting the Huggett Family for years, and George had yet to deliver. In 1980 we added his subscribers to our mailing list to further increase their demand for the Huggett Family. George and I continued negotiating at the provincial Contacts. In the late fall of 1980, George and the Huggett Family signed an agreement for 31 concerts."

The Huggett siblings were starting to establish themselves as artists in their own right. Andrew produced this musical score, performed by members of the National Arts Centre Orchestra for Lotte Reiniger's last film, The Rose And The Ring.

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Heather Engli, touring concert coordinator for the Huggett Family and Margaret.

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 In 1981 the Huggetts are significantly more musically accomplished but not as cute as in this 1972 NAC concert.

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The first step in reaching out to communities who'd not yet had the Huggett Family was quarterly mailings like this one from December 1980.

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George Zukerman, OC OBC, bassoonist and impresario. His tours had a reputation for being physically demanding. Travel times between tightly packed jobs were often significant. However, George never demanded from other artists anything he wouldn't do himself. Over his life, he made an outstanding contribution to the arts in Canada.

MARCO VALENTI

In April, the Huggetts open for an Italian tenor, Marco Valente, who hopes to be offered the part of Mario Lanza in an upcoming movie. He is a protege of Las Vegas entertainer and pianist Liberace represented in Canada by concert promoter Sam Gesser as a favour to Liberace.

 

This is the only time the Family has opened for anyone, and the gig turns out to be an unfortunate mismatch. Mario, a talented singer, performs with a large and amplified Las Vegas band. His music and the Huggett's share little, if anything, in common.

 

Together they play to sparse audiences in Ottawa, Hamilton, and Massey Hall in Toronto. The concert is sold out in Kitchener, where Valenti had previously appeared with Liberace.

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Liberace protege Marco Valenti and the Huggetts make an odd pairing. Their musical styles are quite different and unlikely to appeal to the same audience.

1981 reviews here:

More 1981 programs and press here:

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Kitchener-Waterloo Record, Tuesday, April 7, 1981

Huggetts, Valenti a poor mix

By PAULINE DURICHEN 
Record Staff Writer

For a while, it looked as though practically anything could be put on stage at Centre in the Square. Monday night's double-bill of the Huggett Family and Marco Valenti revealed that this theater, too, has its limitations. It can't be made to sound like an intimate 17th-century salon by barricading recorders, lutes and viols behind a forest of microphones; neither can it accommodate the football-stadium amplification deemed necessary for Marco Valenti and his too-much backup band.

Stranger yet was the bizarre idea of offering these totally unrelated shows back to back on the same evening - delicate Renaissance music competing with high-powered middie-of-the-road contemporary.

Broadening an audience's experience is laudable under certain conditions, but this mismatched affair left a lonely minority of early-music enthusiasts wishing for a full recital in the adjacent studio theatre while hordes of
Valenti fans could easily have taken in several hours of him and loved every decibel of it.

As it was, the appealing and prodigiously talented Huggetts

(Leslie, Margaret and their four children; Andrew, Jennifer, Ian and Fiona) were allotted a scant 40 minutes of performing time before being whisked out of sight.

They filled every second of their short program brilliantly, however, with polished selections drawn mainly from the golden age of English court music.

Ranging through the popular times of music-loving Henry VIII, to fashionable imported french dance and song - particularly the moving 'Belle, qui tient me vie, by Arbeau - the six Huggetts displayed a level of family versatility and mutual involvement that virtually disappeared with the onslaught of electronic entertainment.


The Huggett Family:
40 minutes and goodbye


Group pieces, which involved various combinations of several dozen period-style instruments, were not only pleasing for technical correctness but seemed to create their own aura of subtle interaction - an artistic sixth sense, revealing musical nuances rarely accessible to nonrelated performers.

An impressive example was William Byrd's beautifully-woven variations to a favorite English tune, The Leaves be Green,

performed on viols (bowed string instruments held between the knees, cella fashion). There was also an imaginative rendition of the classic Greensleeves (arranged by lute virtuoso Andrew Huggett), in which the melody flowed from one player to another, changing color with the variety of instruments used.

Even allowing for the artificial balance of amplified sound, it was obvious that this remarkable family of professional but refreshingly unpretentious performers hasn't been resting on the accolades of nearly 12 years of experience as Renaissance minstrels.

It was also obvious, however, that the greater part of Monday's audience came to hear the no-holds-barred tenor of Marco Valen - a name becoming well known, partly because of the names (notably Liberace) he enjoys dropping between numbers.

He was also doing a little local promotion with singing Guelph sisters Diana and Sidonia Zamprogna, who got through a pair of opening numbers with the self-conscious art of schoolgirls at assembly. Unfortunately, the natural prettiness of these good female voices was hampered by forced mannerisms and excessive milking.

Valenti himself is a slick showman, to play his audience down to the last moist eye and turn the lamest vocal cliche into something of a sensual experience. He was in his element, wooing listeners and repeatedly assuring them that they were wonderful.

It's a practiced act seen many times before, but underneath all the imitative gestures and choreography, there was genuine evidence of a gifted operatic voice.

It seemed sadly abused in Monday's double-forte roundabout of such tired tributes to mediocrity as  To Dream The Impossible Dream, / My Way and You Don't Bring Me Flowers Anymore, with raucous backup brass delivering volume and little else. 

Where Valenti excelled in both style and finesse, however, was in delivering Italian classics delivered with full-toned splendor, worthy of the late Mario Lanza, whom he's scheduled to portray in film.
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Whether he'd be just another tenor without his microphone, only the soundman knows for sure, but Marco Valenti seems to be doing his utmost to force his operatic gifts into a popular mold already crowded by lesser lights.

A RENAISSANCE NOEL

Under Andrew's direction, the Huggetts begin a new record album, A Renaissance Noel, at Mark studios in Ottawa. It is not as easy for the family to get together now, and many tracks are recorded as and when people are available. They are joined by the Christchurch Cathedral Choir on several tracks. The songs, though traditional,  are from the 15th to 19th centuries. No modern instruments (guitars, drums, modern strings, or piano) are used on the album, which makes the record refreshingly unique in the overly crowded Christmas album space. 

Vocals turn out to be unusually challenging. Singing is something the Huggetts traditionally practiced as a group together right after breakfast. Everyone's been busy over the last six months and no one except Andrew has  been singing. Like all unexercised muscles, it takes a while to get the voices to get back in shape.

Andrew accidentally breaks his hand halfway through the recording process. The hand is in a cast, but he can still play many of the wind instruments and the violoni. However, lutenist Ed Honeywell is engaged to finish the album's lute parts.

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A Renaissance Noel with the choir of Christchurch Cathedral, Ed Honeywell Lute and Stephen Tevlin tabor. Traditional carols sounded refreshingly unique on the Huggett's early instruments.

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Gloucestershire Wassail 

00:00 / 03:59

Wexford Carol

00:00 / 02:27

Deck The Halls With Boughs Of Holly

00:00 / 03:35

Personent Hodie

00:00 / 02:32

The Sussex Carol

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Margaret on the harpsichord. Tracks are recorded as and when people are available. 

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Pat-A-Pan

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Ding Dong! Merrily On High

00:00 / 02:09

A Gigge

00:00 / 03:28

To Drive The Cold Winter Away

00:00 / 02:19

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

00:00 / 03:21

In Dulci Jubilo

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Fiona flew in from London, England and was one of the last into the studio to record on the baroque violin.

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Andrew was in top singing form for the recording of the Christmas album. As the weakest voice in the group, he took lessons from fellow, part-time, Ottawa University professor Donald Bell - who made him sound like a real singer.

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Jennifer had spent the summer playing with the AFM Cincinnati Orchestra. Here she records a bass viol track for the new Christmas album.

GRAND CANADA TOUR PART 1

The Christmas Album is finished, and the family, minus Ian, returns to the "A" House. They bring with them the last of their belongings that have been in storage for 11 years, the Carl Orff instruments that Margaret and Leslie had used as music teachers before the Huggett Family began. When the Huggett Family years come to an end, Leslie and Margaret will find a suitable location to set up a new Studio.

Rehearsals for the upcoming season get underway. Ian's musical ability on the viols, krumhorns, recorders, and viola is sorely missed, and much of the music needs rearranging. New publicity shots and posters are also needed.

The new repertoire is broken in during a week of concerts for Hank Rennick in Lennox and Addington schools. This is followed by another visit to Quebec City and Ontario shows in Walkerton, Elliot Lake, Haileybury, Orangeville, Tillsonburg, and Dundalk. Here, the organizers are very proud of their newly restored opera house, one of many refurbished heritage buildings in which the Huggetts have played.

Margaret's great uncles, Sid and Reg Stokes, were vaudeville artists.  After the First World War, they worked their way across Canada and from Vancouver to Los Angeles, performing in the very same Canadian theatres now visited by the Huggett Family 60 years later. "I remember they came back to England right after the Second world war and gave my sister and me five pounds each, which was a fortune in those days. I wonder if we are following in their footsteps?" muses Margaret.


In November, the Huggetts return to the "A" House to prepare for their  Christmas tour for Overture Concerts.  Margaret recalls, "We fly to Dryden, a logging town, which is apparently dead center between Canada's east and west coasts. Since there's no suitable vehicle here for us to rent for this lengthy tour, it has been arranged that someone will drive us to Kenora, where we will pick up a rental van. However, the driver swerves from side to side, and we all keep our fingers crossed and make a note not to get into this arrangement again. Next, we play a matinee for the Mennonite community in Winkler. Here, we're requested not to dance. Perhaps La Volta, originally danced by Elizabeth I and the Earl of Leicester, is too bawdy! 

That evening, an hours drive away, The King's Singers, including our friend and vocal coach from London, Brian Kay, are performing in Winnipeg. Brian has arranged excellent seats for us and an invite to the reception afterward." 

Andrew adds, "When I was in my late teens, the family and I attended a party at Brian's London home.  I was sitting on the floor talking to a fellow who introduced himself as Donald Swan. When I asked him what he did, he said that he wrote musical theatre.  I innocently asked him if it was possible to make a living doing that. To which he replied yes. At the time, I didn't know of Flanders and Swan, Britain's most successful post-war writing team of comic songs and operettas. Brian Kay thought the whole thing hilarious, and I had hoped he'd forgotten it by the time we met up 6 years later in Winnipeg - but no, he had not.
Much to my chagrin, the first thing out of his mouth was. "Hello, Andrew! Nice to see you again.  Hey, do you remember that time at my house when you met Donald Swan?"

There are seven more concerts in Saskatchewan, revisiting towns like Swift Current that had waited eleven years to hear the Huggetts again. And, another seven shows in Alberta.  In Brooks, the Huggetts are told that pipeline workers have taken over their hotel booking. They manage to find alternative lodgings in a Motel a couple of hundred yards from a massive slaughterhouse. The overwhelming stench, locally referred to as "the smell of money," requires the Huggetts to hold their breath while unloading the van to avoid gaging or worse.  

The next afternoon the Family plays in the friendly town of Nelson, a matinee followed by a fine Sunday dinner at the sponsor's home. There are a further seven concerts in BC before they fly from Fort Nelson to Cassiar. This now-closed asbestos mine was one of the most isolated communities on the tour.  It is surrounded by towering mountains on three sides and hemmed in by a gigantic slag heap that looms over the airstrip on the fourth. Upon landing, the relieved sponsor says, "I'm so glad you made it safely. The last plane ended up in the ditch! Everybody is housed in a mobile home, including the Huggetts. The company keeps the mostly Yugoslavian miners happy by providing gourmet meals with steaks galore and a french pastry chef who creates exquisite desserts - all thoroughly enjoyed by the Huggetts, too! 

Another three concerts and then Clearwater, where there is an after-concert reception to which the Huggetts are strangely not invited. Seven more concerts, including Banff again, and then an 800 km Drive in -30 degree weather to recently established  Fort McMurray, 40 years later, the hub of the Alberta oil industry. The isolated road is dead straight without a single gas station or truck stop for the last 400km. Next day, happy the van is holding up, the Huggetts drive the snowy 1000 kilometers south to North Battleford and then Saskatoon.  Margaret's father loved the names Saskatoon and Moose Jaw and would enjoy rolling them off his tongue amid peels of laughter. Finally, the Huggetts fly back to Toronto and a final evening concert in Oakville, from where they drive home to the "A" House for Christmas.

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New music and promotional material is required for the 1981 season.

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Margaret's great uncles, vaudevillians Sid and Reg Stokes, played the same Canadian theaters 60 years before the Huggett Family.

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Weather is always a concern when you are on the road with deadlines to meet. Amazingly, the Huggett Family never missed a show in 13 years of touring.

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Packing up for the flight to Cassiar. When the Huggetts get there, they are told that the previous plane had ended up in the ditch.

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The flight to Cassiar is spectacular through glistening mountains and clear blue skys.

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With individual Huggetts pursuing personal projects, the entire 1981 season is compacted into 11 weeks of touring.

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The Lennox and Addington school tour allowed the Huggetts to try out their new material. The illustration is Hank Rennick's farmhouse.

The Toronto Star, Tuesday, October 6, 1981

The Huggett Family takes renaissance on the road
Their music will charm new audiences in towns across Canada

ByPeterBailey

CLAREMONT — Country and western singers aren't the only entertainers who spend months on the road playing one-night stands. The Huggett Family, now living in Durham Region, is about to embark upon a 70-day 63-concert tour that will take them from Halifax to Dawson Creek and all points in between. And they'll be performing the music and dances that were popular in the court of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, playing replicas of the original krummhorns, viols, nakers, and recorders of that era. "They tell me it's the most extensive tour of its kind ever undertaken by a Canadian group of classical musicians," Leslie Huggett says. 

He and his wife, Margaret, and their children have, in the last 10 years, been performing renaissance music all over the world. They are more popular than ever now, and the Huggetts are gratified at the growing interest they see in early music the world over.

Fifth album

"It amazes me, quite frankly, to see the tremendous number of young people now making all these old instruments. They're all of very good quality, and we can get a surprising number of them right here in Canada. I couldn't have foreseen such a situation 10, or even five years ago," Huggett says. 

Practically every major city has its own groups of Renaissance musicians now. The Huggetts plan to bring their music to many small towns across the country. They have just put the finishing touches on their fifth album, A Renaissance Noel, and at the moment they are busy with last-minute rehearsals, checking their instruments, and organizing the final details of their coming tour.

Create costumes

It's a big job, and each of the Huggetts does his or her part. 

Margaret researches the material, designs the concert program, and creates the costumes they wear while performing. 

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Family In tune: The Huggetts in rehearsal are from left, Jennifer, Leslie, Margaret, Andrew and Fiona. 

Andrew, 25, orchestrates the music and helps his father with the business aspects of touring. Jennifer, 23, is the group's choreographer and also assists her mother with the costuming.

Packed van

Fiona, 19, arranges the music for the stringed instruments, among other duties.

Each of the Huggetts plays at least five instruments, and that means carting a formidable train of baggage with them everywhere they go. 

For shorter trips, their van is packed full. But much of this tour will be spent racing from airport to airport.

Their tour starts on October 14 and will take them from Walkerton through Dundalk, Elliot Lake, Haileybury, Orangeville, and Tillsonburg to Hamilton on the 23rd. From there, they go to Quebec City and points east.

They take the prospect of such an exhausting schedule in their stride; they are all seasoned professionals.

Even as some of them relax and chat while having their pictures taken, the others steal away to catch a few minutes practice.

It's the only way they can keep up with such a heavy workload. There is still so much to do and so little time. 

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1981 reviews here:

More 1981 programs and press here:

MISCILLANEOUS MOMENTS FROM 1981

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Leslie and Margaret. A chilly early November day in Saskatchewan.

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The newly renovated theater in Dundalk. In the 70s small theaters across Canada were being renovated and the Huggetts played most of them.

Jennifer Huggett spent the summer in Cincinnati.

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Beautiful views back in Banff, Alberta.

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George Zuckerman doing a school concert. He didn't ask anything of his touring artists he wouldn't do himself.

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Andrew demonstrates a homemade broomstick violin at one of Hank Rennick's school shows.

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Margaret at a Lennox and Addington school leads school children in a farandole.

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Margaret with Heather Engli. Heather was an invaluable help in organizing tour logistics.

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Margaret at the "A" House works on a new piece for the 81 tour.

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Fiona in the Alberta foothills. Maybe she thinks she will reach Nelson faster this way!

The Huggetts return safely from Cassiar thanks to their North Caribou pilot.